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tv   KQED Newsroom  PBS  January 11, 2014 12:30am-1:01am PST

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. >> next on kqed newsroom. billions of education, high speed rail and still calling for rerestraint. poverty, the impact on children in the golden state. saved by a court ruling but how long. what is ahead for san francisco college and the 80,000 students. >> we are fully accredited, we are here for students.
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>> good evening and welcome to kqued newsroom, governor brown's message was that the state is in the best financial shape in decades. they have new funding for schools and higher education. the plan also includes a whopping $11 billion to pay down debt incurred during the recession. but it did not take long for the critics to begin. joining me is jill tucker, paul rogers, environment writer and managing editor for kqued science and john meyers political editor, joining us from the state capitol.
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john, let's begin with you, which programs and services will get the biggest boost and where there surprises? >> i think the surprise is the surplus. especially when you look at the state's finances over the last several years. it's been more than a decade that we had a surplus. schools always get a lot. jill has details on that. i think the big take away from all of this frankly is that this is probably a harder budget fight than when you don't have money. when you don't have money, the governor can stand there and say hey guys there's nothing i can do. now everybody is coming with their hand out. they see the surplus and have ideas on how to use it and the governor will try to pledge the idea of prudence and caution and one of the stories is the large budget surplus that he wants to be in the reserves. the rainy day fund. and the fight how to avoid the bust and boom cycles, that will be interesting to watch much. >> he has a democratic super majority to contend with.
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jill, john eluded to this, that some of the biggest spending will go toward education. we have got $10 billion in new spending for k-12, and $3 billion in higher education. is that enough to make up for what is cut over the years? >> it is not enough to make up. it was a 20% cut for education. s going to be a statewide budget fight and schools will not fight that hard, they are happy with the inincrease they are getting. it's a 10% increase. it will put per student spending up to $9,000. that is a lot of money for schools to spend. i think what we are going to see is fights more at a local level of what do we do with the money? what do we start restoring? do we give teachers raises? do we make classes smaller? >> there's so many holes to
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fill, that the question is where do we start at a local level. we have cut so thin, we have no libraries, art programs are gone, after school programs are slim. class sizes are huge. where do we put the money? >> at least it's a good start. know environmentalists are all over the budget as well. >> i listen to my friends say that every silver lining that is a cloud. this is the best budget in 15 years. we have spent 15 years talking about how we are broke and we have to close state parks and raise tuition and cut weeks off of the school year there's none of that in the budget. they are not raising tuition and not closing state parks and raising fees for parks. we have gone up from a deficit to now we fight over how to spend the 4 billion dollars surplus. it is an amagz run of good luck. some of which jerry brown gets credit for. by raising taxes through getting voters to pass prop 30 and by
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cutting a lot in the lean years. but some of which is just the good luck of him being in office when the economy finally improved and capitol gain and taxes went up. >> john can talk about it too, he was there when the governor is spoking. the governor set the tone. they are doing a jig this week. it's great news for them. but the governor's set the tone and that tone was we have to be prudent. we cannot over spend. >> jerry brown is running for re-election and he knows what the voters want. they want more money for schools and the end to the deficits, right? and you can certainly add to that, john, i mean, isn't this the first shot re-election of jerry brown? >> the hard part here is that the governor will play defense all year long. it's a different environment for the governor and lawmakers. the governor played offense and came in and said, look, i'm the guy in the room, i am seasoned i
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can solve the problems. now, as you said, paul, people argue a lot of the problems are solved and the long-term problems are not. we can talk about that. now the gorveer plays defense all year long. no, i don't want that, or this, and in some ways that looks great, he continues to say i don't want to do these things. look at the things he will have to fight on. transitional kindergarten, they want it in a big way. and it costs a lot of money for 4-year-olds. and more money in the medi-cal program, we are paying doctors to see patients less than any state in the union. the governor will have to play defense this year, if he gives in, he loses the narrative of i'm fiscally prudent. if he does not -- >> no, he doesn't, his pau supporters have nowhere to go.
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they will not vote for the tea party, and big labor will not abandon him. he is good at saying no, he has been doing it for the last three or four years. his main problem is he has big public works projects that are in big trouble. high speed rail, which is on life support, he tried to prop it up by shifting $250 million in revenue from the state's cap and trade program in to the high speed rail. because they basically need money to put the shovels in the ground to get it started, because a judge has blocked most of the state money. >> how are environmentalists reacting to that? >> they don't like it, but what are they going to do? some of the 250 will be cut back in the legislature. the democrats only a few years ago approved high speed rail will not zero out the money that will kill the project, when the labor supporters want it. what jerry did, which was smart, he took a lot of that cap and trade revenue and gave it to programs they like. retrofitting buildings and
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restoring wetlands and reducing fire risks and forests. he sort of gave them a glass half full and you know, he cut back from the coastal commission a bit. some of them are mad about it. but overall, the environment environmentalists are happy. and they are not going to attack their guy on an election year. they are not. >> i would say you are right, paul, but let's not make it all about jerry brown, we have 120 members of the legislature, a super majority of democrats in the house, and most of them are up for re-election this year. and many of these things play differently in their district. the governor has a cake walk to run again. but the democrats do not have a cake walk in the districts that changed in california. i think they will have to defend to their constituents whether they got what they wanted out of this in terms of fiscal prudence, they are all democrats but different stripes democrats. >> we have a great surplus, yes, but this does not begin to
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address the issue of unfunded pensions. and jill, the teacher's pension for example severely unfunded. >> even though it's a fantastic year, don't get me wrong, there's going to be people screaming loudly. and it's for the reasons that john mentioned. people want the transitional kindergarten. it's a big issue for people up for re-election, and other elected officials out there. but there's a big elephant in the room in california and education and while, we can look off in the distance and go, well, that is 30 years down the road, the reality is, for teachers's pension for example, they are $80 billion in debt. and overall, this big wall of pension debt and health care debt, you know, the director of finance, when they were talking about it, and i said, there's nothing in this budget, where are the incentives to solve the problem? they said look, it would be $4.5
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billion a year to put in the fund to solve the problem. that's our surplus right now. this year's surplus, would be one year's down payment on that 30 year debt. >> they have to get the teachers to pay part of it with a compromise. >> there's two buckets of money, the short-term money, what jerry is calling the wall of debt. he is taking $11 billion out of it, he is cutting it in half. those are like the credit card at hope, you have to pay it right away. it's servicing the revenue bonds and paying back the prop 90 money. it's the equal of saying, do you have $250,000 in the bank right now, in your kid's college fund, when your kid is 7, you know you have to do it and you need to save, but it's not as pressing. >> but the parents will be there for the next 18 years and the politicians won't be there. >> pay the credit card first and
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then the long-term. >> one of the things that you hear bubbling a lot and you hear it nationally and you hear it here as well. the issue of income inequality. they have a huge poverty rate. and we have got a lot of haves and have-nots in california. you will hear more and more pushing about where is that? the wealthiest people, their capitol gains are booming and we are making money. but you look at the counties where unemployment rates are high and persistent in the central valley, where is the program to fix it and in other things. that is the narrative that the governor can say, yeah, i'm the only game in town. at a certain point, that eats away discussion of who is recovering in california. >> you bring up a good point. the capitol gains wind fall we had is in large part, the
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surplus is due to that. i think it will play out very interestingly over the next few months. they have until june 15th to agree on a budget. thank you all for being here with me. >> thank you. >> and later we will talk about scott sha scott schafer thinks the budget will mean. a national effort aimed at raising the standard of living for the poorest of us. there was a sobering report released. nearly half of all children in california live in poor or low income families. scott sat down with the president of children now. >> ted, welcome. >> thank you. >> this latest report card covers 25 different areas of children's health and welfare. there's a lot of cs and ds. this is not a report card that
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you would run home and brag to your parts about. what bothers you most about the status of kids in california today? >> it's not a great report cashcard. if we are going to want the economy that we want in the years to come, we have to make sure that all the children are getting a good education. when you see that they are not meeting standards in math and reading, we have troubles in years ahead if we do not turn it around. >> how much of it is a funding issue? california has not funded the school as it should be, perhaps. is that it or is it more than that? >> it's a great question. i don't want to shy away from the funding issue. you look at california, we rank near the bottom in terms of per capita school funding, and i do not find many people that agree with that. you see headlines of schools getting a wind fall. it is a better year. but we are under funding our schools. reforms are needed but the schools certainly need more
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support. >> and another children's advocacy group, did not mince words when the governor released the budget this woke. they called it irresponsible to allocate billions to paying down the debt and creating a rainy day fund, when there's been so many years of cuts to social service programs and education and so on. do you agree? >> i take a different path. if they want to pay down the debt, fine, but the top priority has to be investing in kids. and so i would say, like the defense fund is saying, we do need to invest more in education, in kids' health and support. it has to be a top priority. >> what do you mean by invest in education? >> special example. early education the governor has been silent on in terms of increases. there's a growing understanding that if kids are going to have a shot, and we close the income gap, they have to have access to
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early education. if you are a family with means, you are sending that child on cycle. those are the invest manies that are needed and need to take first call before you say let's pay down the debt. >> there was a graph in the report that stuck with me that showed the effectiveness of spending money on a child in different times of life, and clearly the biggest pay off is between 0 and 3. >> the state needs to do a better job in prioritizing expenditures, there's a lot of needs but governor has to put early education issues first. >> when you say california is failing children, do you say that the democrats are failing children. democrats run the table, right? they own the legislature and governor'ses of, every statewide office, in what way is it a call to arms and to democrats s demo?
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>> the democrats only had true control for a year. the funding formula and the equity measure i think will show gains in the long run and the way we have implemented health care. that having been said, this report is a call to action. and you know, whether you are a democrat or republican, we are not interesting in focusing, yeah, i'm for the kids. we are interested in seeing action and hopefully we will see that this year. >> aren't there things that can be done that do not require more money. for example, one of the grd gras came from teacher training and education. that could require democrats to perhaps work with or confront their friend in the labor union. >> absolutely, there's reforms. there's very little disagreement that the current teacher evaluatievalu evaluation system doesn't make sense. it's a great example of reform that we are not talking about expenses. there's other ways in terms of wealth.
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the local control funding formula, the new education measure. there's ways to make sure we get better impact from that that does not mean spending more money. >> and of course, governments do not raise children, parents do. what is the message for parents? and what should parents be doing in communities? >> there's no question that the parents play a primary role. they are saying, listen, parents that have the resources are going out and getting support. they are making sure their kids get good education and good health care, if we are serious about them getting he heducatio they need support. we all will suffer if we don't help to provide it. >> top priority for 2014, what do you like to see? >> i would put early education and expanding universal preschool and focusing on birth to 3, early intervention for
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babies and toddlers. >> thank you for coming in. >> my pleasure, thank you. >> the state's largest community college has been battling to stay open after a commission decided last career to strip its accred accreditation, there was a reprieve. >> it's ban a good work of city college of san francisco. the college can remain accredited pending a trial. now the accrediting commission is under scrutiny. the san francisco attorney filed the lawsuit. >> our intention in filing this case has always been to enjoin priority accreditors from closing a cherished institution.
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>> house minority leader nancy pelosi made a personal appearance to signal her support. speaking at the china town campus. >> nothing brings more money to the treasury. the public treasury, than the education of the american people. >> still, the official in charge of city college said that the court ruling was unnecessary to keep the school open. i sat down with the special trustee to talk about his plans and next steps for the college. >> okay doctor thank you for being with us today. i think the big question on people's minds right now is the recent court ruling in which a judge sided with a city attorney's office saying that ccff can remain accredited pending a trial. what does the court ruling mean for you? >> it means for me and the institution, it has no direct
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effect, meaning that it will make tremendous progress towards meeting the standard. the ruling to students possibly meant that kind of they had better opportunity to register and know that their degrees and units would be still in effect. but for us at the institution, it's just continuing to work towards meeting the standards. >> i wanted to ask you about that, because you have -- as you said, you are very neutral in the court in a legal situation right now, why not take a stand on that. i think some supporters say that may show your allegiance to the college. >> my allegiance to the college is to maintain the accreditation standard. >> so do you agree with what the commission pointed out as flaws at the college? >> absolutely i do. i think the commission findings were accurate and with respect
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to the institution itself and not meeting the standards at that point in time. >> i think a lot of people are still scratching their head when they hear of fiscal mismanagement and governments, they do not understand it, specifically can you give me examples of what you have been trying to turn around? >> there were two major areas, one was in fiscal and one was in governance. they were not meeting the special reserve that the institution has. and required to have. checks and balances for example, within the personnel area to be sure that people would be paid on time and paid the correct amount. and the lack of the use of a database system, software system called banner. >> so, moving on to the work at hand, how close are you and your team to completing these tasks, 357 tasks needed to satisfy the accredit ors. >> you saw the road map, the 357 items that we self identified along with a spin off of report.
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i say at this point, we are around 70%. i think by the end of spring semester. we are hopefully 85%. tremendous progress. not the least of which is the full time chancellor now. i have a experienced chancellor. dr. arthur tyler. both at the community college level in california as well as in texas. we have three vice chancellors, brand new. who are very, very experienced. i feel really good about the top tier and all of the administrative structure. particularly at the top end of the institution. >> some say that even the accredidation is regained through the process. >> we have never lost it. >> that's true, in the end here, the enroll many and the cost to enrollment because of all this has really hit the college so much that maybe the college will never really be able to rebound.
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so, how do you attempt to solve this enrollment problem? >> getting the word out that we are open, fully accredited, and we maintain the accreditadation. >> how concerning is the enrollment of course that means a lot. >> the california community -- which would be natural, because the enrollment would not be there to fill the courses we are offering. >> classes begin on monday, what is your message to the public, to students and faculty? >> we are here, we are hope, we remain accredited, and i'm optimistic about where we are headed and city college will be here for the
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>> that was kqued reporter anna, for a time line on city college's fight to stay open, go to for a look at what is in the news and what's a ahead, scott is with me. the politics are interesting, the warm and fuzzy words are coming from republicans and the harsh criticism is coming from within his own party, the democrats. how do you expect it to play out politically over the long haul. >> what you are seeing is pent up demand and advocacy groups for kids and health and welfare, they have seen cash and they want to spend it. i think what is interesting is you have the governor that is playing the long game. he doesn't want to -- he wants to run as a frugal governor that got the state's fiscal house in
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order, and he does not want to lock himself in to things that will cost him a lot of money in the second, third or fourth year of the term. >> advocates are saying he has the money, he should spend it and reinvest it in the service programming. any chance of political challenge from his left? >> you know, i just don't see it happening unless it's really from the very far left. you know, the most credible candidate to his left is lieutenant governor, both of them are saying did things this week about the budget. there's nothing in it for them, they will have to wait their turn and run for governor in four years or perhaps the u.s. senator when that opens up. one of the reasons the governor may be playing it cautious, he may have to go to the voters in november to ask for some money for a water bond. it is looking shaky, but with the drought going on, the governor feels that perhaps it may be a good time ask for a
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bond to fix the water delta. >> we are heading in to the third year of drought. historically, january and february are the wettest months. but unless we see heavy rainfall, we are pretty much on pace to have the driest year since 1977. >> it's scary, you realize how little control you have to something that is fundamental to our well being. the governor will meet with the drought task force, and will do a drought declaration next week or the week afterwards, that could lead to water ratoning and it will impact local budgets for san francisco, which sells hydro electric power. there's implications on the economy and issues. >> our snow pack is down to 17%. and it's nothing out on the horizon term of any storm that could bring water and so, you
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know, it could be a difficult spring going in to next year. and so, as the governor said, no matter what he does, he can't make it rain. >> we will keep our fingers crossed for rain. all right, scott, thank you. >> and for all of the kqed news coverage go to our website. have a good night.
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